Lower Thames Crossing

CPRE Kent, working together with CPRE Essex, has produced a policy statement on the Lower Thames Crossing. We are calling for a wider, more resilient solution, including investment in ports north of the Thames to disperse the cross channel movement of freight.

QE2 Bridge by Diamond Geezer, flickr

QE2 Bridge by Diamond Geezer, flickr

We believe better operation of the existing Thames crossings within a sustainable transport strategy would:

  • Be free from congestion
  • Have acceptably low air pollution levels
  • Be part of a dispersed strategic transport network and channel crossing system, resilient to economic, security and weather issues
  • Reduce the number of loaded trucks parking up overnight and at weekends on local roads
  • Offer a partnership with fleet managers for an end to unsocial working conditions for drivers
  • Promote more diversion to rail and unaccompanied trailer operations
  • Herald the beginning of a lower impact future for transport through Kent and Essex

To read the full policy statement click here.

December 15th 2015

Important Judicial Review

A High Court judge will today and tomorrow consider whether the decision to grant planning permission for more than 600 homes on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Dover was lawful.

We have taken the plans for Farthingloe and the Western Heights to Judicial Review in a last ditch attempt to protect this beautiful and iconic landscape.

South across the valley to site B from Little Farthingloe Farm 2

View across the valley at Farthingloe, photo Brian Lloyd

Dover District Council has granted planning permission for 521 houses and a 90 dwelling retirement village in the AONB at Farthingloe and a large hotel on the historically important Western Heights.

We have discovered that the Government’s planning experts had recommended in 2013 that the then Secretary of State for Planning Nick Boles “call in” the application because of the question mark over justification of building in the AONB.

We finally have a copy of the un-redacted letter (dated 19 June 2013) recommending this, obtained after a two year process of Freedom of Information requests.

The two statutory advice bodies, Natural England and Kent Downs AONB Unit, as well as CPRE Kent and the National Trust all requested that the outline planning permission be called in for a public inquiry. The planned development would have a major detrimental impact on the AONB, was contrary to national planning policy, was not sustainable and was not part of Dover’s agreed Development Plan.

In the advice to the Secretary of State, the planning casework officer said: “If you decide not to call-in this application, this could place the protected landscape of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at risk, leading to potential negative press coverage and reputation risk for the Government.”

There was shock and disappointment when the decision was made NOT to call in the application in July 2013. Planning permission was granted in April 2015.

“A Judicial Review is not a decision to be taken lightly,” said CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury. “But as this planning decision was so clearly wrong and so important it is now up to us to fight for the AONB through the Planning Court.  In planning law, AONB has the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty and we do not believe there are the exceptional circumstances to justify the destruction of this fantastic landscape.”

A High Court judge will consider the case for judicial review and hear the arguments on Tuesday and Wednesday this week (December 15th and 16th).  We expect the judgement early in the New Year.

December 9th 2015

Reaction to the Autumn Statement

CPRE has reacted to the Autumn Statement and Spending Review, where the Chancellor made a number of announcements on issues affecting the countryside.

Housing:

We have long been asking the Government to stop fixating on the planning system. Figures show that planning permissions are not the issue; the issue is that developers are not building the homes for which they have permission. Landbanking is a major problem and we are saying to developers to get on and build to deliver the housing we need.

HousingEstate_2167w

Paul Miner, planning campaign manager at the CPRE comments:

“Although we welcome a focus on brownfield development, we’re wary of moves to develop brownfield sites in the Green Belt – many Green Belt sites classed as ‘brownfield’ contain a lot of valuable open land, often historic parkland, which should be kept undeveloped. Continue reading

Kent is frack free

Great news that Kent is now frack free as there are no petroleum exploration development licenses (which would allow test drilling) in the county.

Coastal Oil & Gas relinquished all their PEDL areas and no other company has applied to drill here thanks to determined opposition in the county.

Fracking well in North Dakota

Fracking well in North Dakota

CPRE Kent expert hydrology engineer Graham Warren said: “This is a relief for Kent as we there would have been a serious risk that fracking would damage the aquifer which supplies 70% of the county’s water. The gas and oil deposits are no more than 600-700m below the aquifer, the Chalk of the North Downs. There was also a risk that geological faults in the area would have been re-activated allowing gases and fracking fluids to leak into the chalk and so contaminate the water supply.”

Mole Valley, photo by David Fisher, flickr

Mole Valley, photo by David Fisher, flickr

However, our neighbours in Surrey are under threat with licence areas having been granted in some of the most beautiful countryside in the Mole Valley. Mr Warren is advising the Surrey campaigners, and said of the proposed horizontal drilling corridor that http://buyinglevitrahere.com will run beneath the aquifer: Continue reading

Gift membership – perfect for Christmas

The gift of the countryside – you could not put a price on it; but you can help us protect it by buying a gift membership of CPRE Kent for friends or family this Christmas.

Forest snow scene by Chris Barnes

Forest snow scene by Chris Barnes

Not only will you and your loved one be supporting our campaigns to protect the beauty and tranquillity of the wonderful Kent countryside, but gift membership offers a lot more besides:

Gift membership 001 (003)

  • Kent Voice magazine – twice a year
  • Countryside Voice magazine – three times a year
  • Two for one or half price entry to homes and gardens across Kent and England for the whole household
  • Social programme of outings
  • Expert planning support
  • 10% discount at Cotswald Outdoors for the whole household
  • A special bonus for gift membership – wildflower seeds, a cute welly boot keyring and a wheelie bin pencil sharpener sent with the welcome pack
  • CPRE pin badge

Continue reading

Autumn Winter 2015 Kent Voice

The Autumn Winter edition of Kent Voice should be arriving on your doorstep any time now.

cover photo jpeg for website

It contains lots of interesting articles on subjects ranging from the Magna Carta to grazing management of some of our most beautiful countryside as well as all the latest campaigns news. Find out about good news fro the Romney Marsh, good news on Waterside Park, and our latest efforts to save the AONB at Farthingloe.

There is also information on the AGM coming up on 20th November and events and outings coming up over the next year.

To read click on the photo.

MPs asked to help protect the countryside

All the MPs in Kent have been sent a detailed map of their constituencies highlighting the proportion of countryside and the amount of it that is unprotected in a bid to raise awareness and build support for our campaigns to protect the countryside.

Elham Valley, photo by Avidly Abide

Elham Valley, photo by Avidly Abide

The maps detail how much land is in the Green Belt, protected by Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) status, covered by a local plan (in Kent only Shepway and Gravesham have local plans in place) and how much is unprotected.

As a result MPs should have a better understanding of the countryside in their area and how well it is protected. CPRE Kent hopes that the new map will encourage our local MPs to help protect the countryside from inappropriate development, and ensure that much-needed new homes are built in the right places.

Kent countryside by Grant Cherrington

Kent countryside by Grant Cherrington

Continue reading


#ourgreenbelt

The Green Belt: it’s where we relax, where we watch wildlife, where we cycle and walk and picnic. The wonderful views and the tranquillity of open countryside is so important to our health and well-being. That is why CPRE has launched a campaign to protect it in its sixtieth anniversary year.

The Green Belt is massively under attack from developers seeking to encroach on to the green buffer created sixty years ago to provide distinction between towns and villages – a vital green lung around the built up areas.

 

Lullingstone park, photo by Susan Pittman

Lullingstone park, photo by Susan Pittman

In Kent we have a large amount of Green Belt – 93% of Sevenoaks, 77% of Gravesham, 71% of Tonbridge and Malling, 56% of Dartford and 22% of Tunbridge Wells. If you love your Green Belt please get involved by sharing your photos, memories, creative works or just your support and thoughts via #ourgreenbelt.

Lavender at Castle Farm, Lullingstone, photo by Glen Humble

Lavender at Castle Farm, Lullingstone, photo by Glen Humble

We will use this to convince the Government that the Green Belt needs protection and must be preserved for our future and our children’s future.

For more information click here.

September 8th 2015.


Countryside Charter delivered to Downing Street

CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury was part of the delegation handing in CPRE’s 80,000 strong petition to save the countryside into Downing Street last week (17th June).

CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury at Number 10

CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury at Number 10

Over the last two years 80,890 people signed the Charter which has now been left with the Prime Minister. Support for the Charter came from all over the world as it is widely recognised that England’s countryside has a unique and special character that must be protected.

Christine Drury said: “Thank you to the many people in Kent who signed the Charter. Members and non-members alike supported these important demands to the Government: brownfield first, more listening to communities and more housing in the right places.”

 

Photo: CPRE, Stefano Cagnoni

Photo: CPRE, Stefano Cagnoni

Over the last two years 80,890 people signed the Charter which has now been left with the Prime Minister. Support for the Charter came from all over the world as it is widely recognised that England’s countryside has a unique and special character that must be protected.

Christine Drury said: “Thank you to the many people in Kent who signed the Charter. Members and non-members alike supported these important demands to the Government: brownfield first, more listening to communities and more housing in the right places.”

Continue reading


Legal challenge to damaging development at Farthingloe

CPRE Kent has challenged the legality of Dover District Council’s decision to allow hundreds of new homes to be built at Farthingloe, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We have lodged a Judicial Review at the High Court into the decision to grant planning permission for 521 homes and a 90 apartment retirement village. We believe the development would cause significant, irreversible harm to a beautiful and historic landscape.

Dover Farthingloe from Mount Road Vic 030

Dover District Council granted final permission in April 2015 for a 130 bed hotel and conference centre, residential units and a museum/visitor attraction at Western Heights as well as the 521 homes, retirement village and a health facility at Farthingloe.  The council agreed to the scheme because of a claimed shortfall in housing provision in the district and the economic benefits that would result from a £5m contribution towards heritage improvements at the Western Heights.

Dover Western heights view over W. Docks Vic 002

Continue reading


Waterside Park closing statements

The public inquiry into plans for an industrial and warehouse development at Waterside Park next to Junction 8 of the M20 has finished with a decision expected by the end of July. You can read the full versions of all the parties at the end of this post.

Photo by Stephen Sutherland

Photo by Stephen Sutherland

In his closing statement CPRE Vice-President Richard Knox-Johnston described the impact on Leeds Castle: “It will harm the setting of the castle. It will be a large grey building, very close to the gardens which themselves are a heritage asset, some 400 metres away and also be very obvious and out of place industrial building able to be seen from the castle environs, no matter how many people see it either today or in the future.”

He went on to say: “The view is there, hopefully it will always be there and no matter how many people enjoy the aspect it is still a beautiful view and needs to be preserved for future generations.

He described the adverse impact on the footpath from the point of view of the Ramblers: “Walking alongside an industrial area with a two to three metre wire fence, security lighting and CCTV cameras was not his idea of a country walk.”

Continue reading


CPRE evidence to Waterside Park inquiry

 

The public inquiry into plans for an industrial and warehouse development at Waterside Park next to Junction 8 of the M20 is due to finish tomorrow (21st). The inspector has heard CPRE Kent evidence from witnesses including Maidstone Borough Councillor Tony Harwood on ecology and impact on the community; CPRE Kent Maidstone Committee Chairman gary Thomas on transport issues; the Chairman of Hollingbourne Parish Council John Cobbett on the local community impact; and CPRE Kent Senior Planner Brian Lloyd on the planning issues.

KCC Councillor Jenny Whittle, Helen Whately MP and Richard Knox-Johnston preparing for the inquiry

KCC Councillor Jenny Whittle, Helen Whately MP and Richard Knox-Johnston preparing for the inquiry

You can read a day by day account of the inquiry proceedings on the Bearsted and Thurnham and Hollingbourne Parish Council websites by clicking here and here.

Feelings against the development on grade 2 agricultural land are strong, with 70 people protesting outside County Hall on the first day., including MPs, county, borough and parish councillors and residents.

inquiry protest2 06052015

CPRE Kent, in partnership with the Joint Parishes Group (a consortium of Parish Councils local to the area), submitted 10 witness statements detailing our reasons for opposing the scheme which would be detrimental to the countryside setting of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural beauty (AONB) and the important heritage setting of Leeds Castle. Continue reading


Richborough line – we say place power lines underground

Energy giant National Grid has unveiled its final plans for a towering network of pylons running from Canterbury to Richborough near Sandwich.

The company says it has tweaked proposals for the chain of “lattice” pylons which will cut through the East Kent countryside. It plans a revised version of its ‘north corridor’ route using two types of pylon – a “standard” 50 metre model and a “low height” 42 metre alternative.

Photo by James Waghorn, flickr

Photo by James Waghorn, flickr

We welcome that fact that National Grid is engaging with the public, and that some efforts are being made to minimise visual impact at the Ash Levels.

However, the new pylons will be significantly taller than the existing pylons and this will have a huge visual impact on the countryside. We would like more of the power transmission lines to be placed underground to protect the visual impact on the countryside. We believe this could be achieved with a more integrated multi-agency approach – for example, undergrounding of power transmission lines might also offer an opportunity for channelling high-speed broadband to rural areas.

To view the plans click here.

To view CPRE Kent’s full consultation response click here.

31st March 2015.

Submission to Airport Commission focuses on noise and tranquillity

CPRE Kent has made a submission to the Airports Commission consultation into a new runway at Gatwick or Heathrow, raising the issues of noise and tranquillity and pressure on the environment and infrastructure.

The consultation closed yesterday (3rd February) and the Commission will publish its report this summer.

In our submission, we have drawn on the devastating impacts of recent flight path alterations which have seen a concentration of flights over previously tranquil areas of west Kent.

“This has brought misery to many people living in west Kent,” said CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport. “The importance of tranquillity cannot be overstated – it is the main reason why people enjoy the countryside and can prevent stress and aid people’s enjoyment of exercise and play.”

London_Gatwick_Airport_(6555355805)wikki

Continue reading

Fracking ban in important countryside areas welcomed

CPRE Kent has welcomed the government’s commitment that there should be a ban on fracking in national parks, sites of special scientific interest and areas of outstanding national beauty.

Energy Minister Amber Rudd MP made the promise during a Commons debate last night (26 January) on fracking legislation in the government’s Infrastructure Bill.

“We are very pleased that the government has pledged to protect important landscapes under threat of industrialisation due to fracking. This would have had a devastating and irreversible impact on our countryside, so we are pleased these beautiful areas will be preserved,” said Richard Knox-Johnston, Vice President of CPRE Kent.

Fracking site, Colorado, by Phoenix Law, flickr

Fracking site, Colorado, by Phoenix Law, flickr

MPs also considered a report from the influential Environmental Audit Committee, published yesterday (26 Jan), which concluded that shale fracking should be put on hold because it is incompatible with climate change targets and could pose significant environmental risks to health and risk to our water supply. Continue reading